The experiences of a Formula One driver on Slovakia's roads, which police president Ján Packa generously shared with the readers of the Hospodarske Noviny newspaper, are a fascinating testimony to the Godlike feeling of immunity experienced by the functionaries of the old Soviet school who are now continuing their careers in post-communist democracies. Packa's claim that he "does 200 km/h, and if someone passes me, I say no way, you don't do that, 200 is fast enough," should be engraved in stone. You don't do that, but he - Packa, the head of the police force - can. He is "more equal" than the rest, and has a "507-horsepower competitive car."
It's possible that a loophole in the law allows Packa (and other celebrities) to build up their self-confidence between Bratislava and Košice at 200 km/h. Slovakia (and its graveyards) is full of such people whose ego is inflated by the horsepower under their hoods, but among the "special tasks defined by the minister" we will surely not find following and stopping other road pirates. What it is, what benefit does it confer, that makes Packa think that he is "not like the Czech police president who had to hand over his drivers' license [when clocked at a high speed for no reason]"? Constitutional and other officials should be given exemptions from following the speed limit only in exceptional situations.
People in power who let everyone know that their post gives them certain priviledges that place them above the law are a far better indicator of how far our political culture has fallen than any vulgarity in parliament. The paragraph specifying Packa's "special duties" can be abused to include a visit to his girlfriend. For this reason, Packa's claim to have "sent some real scoundrels to appear in traffic court" is ludicrous. He is the first one who should be explaining themselves in court. Given that he himself acknowledges that "Slovakia's problem is its accident rate," we should remind him that this problem starts with powerful owners of exemptions who regularly flaunt them and set a negative example. What should those people think of the state they live in whose cars are incapable of Packa's 200 km/h, but who have to fork out a collective Sk90 million in traffic crackdowns like the Jastrab operation?
Sme, March 14
19. Mar 2007 at 0:00 | Peter Schutz